Spike in rough sleeping numbers hits London, up 33% from last year



The latest quarterly report from the Greater London Authority reveals a concerning surge in rough sleeping, with figures showing a 33% increase compared to the same period last year.

Compiled by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN), the report indicates that 4,118 individuals spent at least one night on the streets between January and March 2024, a stark rise from the 3,107 recorded in 2023.

Of particular note is the significant proportion of first-time rough sleepers, accounting for 49% of the total recorded, marking a 37% increase from the previous year. However, it's worth mentioning that a substantial 74% of these new rough sleepers spent only a single night without shelter.

Outreach efforts in Westminster and Camden highlight the severity of the situation, with 850 individuals recorded in Westminster alone, marking an increase of 168 from the previous year, while Camden saw a notable rise of 135 individuals, totaling 341.

Director of homeless services at the Salvation Army, Nick Redmore, emphasized the urgent need for government intervention, attributing the rise in rough sleeping to various factors including abuse, trauma, addiction, and mental health issues. Redmore stressed the necessity of investing in support services aimed at addressing the root causes of homelessness, lamenting the continuous funding cuts that hinder efforts to meet the rising demand for assistance.

The report also sheds light on the demographic makeup of rough sleepers, revealing that only 44% are UK nationals, with significant representation from Romania, Eritrea, Poland, and Sudan. Efforts to combat homelessness have become a focal point in political discourse, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan pledging to "eliminate" rough sleeping by 2030, contingent on national policy changes.

Responding to the crisis, mayoral candidates have proposed various solutions, including addressing mental health issues, family breakdowns, and increasing housing availability. The Salvation Army advocates for immediate changes to homelessness legislation, including prioritizing all rough sleepers for emergency housing assistance, alongside sustained investments in social housing.

In response, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities emphasized ongoing efforts, citing a £2.4 billion investment to tackle homelessness and the provision of over £191 million to London boroughs for beds and support services. Additionally, £4 billion has been allocated to the Greater London Authority for affordable and social housing initiatives since 2010.

The data underscores the severity of the homelessness crisis in London, with the City of Westminster recording the highest number of rough sleepers followed closely by Camden. With fifteen boroughs reporting over 100 individuals sleeping rough, urgent action is needed to address the root causes and provide sustainable solutions to this growing humanitarian issue. Photo by Philafrenzy, Wikimedia commons.

The Era

  1. Popular
  2. Trend